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Saied Ghanbari's struggle to reunite with his family in New Zealand

TEHRAN, Jan. 7 (Mehr News Agency) -- Saied Ghanbari's successful eight-year stay in the city of Auckland, New Zealand came to an abrupt end in August 2004 due to the efforts of a senior parliamentarian, and he was forced to leave his wife Belinda and two-year-old son Ali behind. Since then, Saied has been making strenuous efforts to reunite with his family.

The trouble began when Winston Peters, the leader of the New Zealand First Party, criticized fellow party member Paul Swain, who was the immigration minister at the time, saying he was not performing his duties correctly, and mentioned the name of Saied Ghanbari several times in parliament.

Saied arrived in the city of one million people in 1996. He established an exemplary trade company, which gained a good reputation over the years. He was regarded as a good 'resident' and always paid his taxes on time. However, he never applied for a permanent residence permit in the country because his wife's parents were opposed to the union, believing it was a marriage of convenience meant to help Ghanbari obtain citizenship.

Mr. Ghanbari's case became a controversy, to the point where the New Zealand First Party took the matter to the NZTV network and criticized the government and in particular the immigration minister for their inability to deport non-citizens like Saied. The issue became a national debate until then Immigration Minister Paul Swain asked Saied to leave the country and apply for re-entry. Eventually, an immigration court ordered Saied to leave the country.

He contested the court order and appealed on the grounds that his wife had borne him a child, but to no avail. So he then went into hiding. In the mean time, the media broadcast previous interviews with him.

The inability of the Immigration Office to find Saied exacerbated the situation, and the issue became a matter of hot debate in parliament. Finally, the media arranged a live televised discussion between Ghanbari and Swain.

Later, in a telephone conversation, Immigration Ministry officials promised Saied that either he would be able to stay or would be required to briefly leave the country and then re-enter, at which time he would receive a permanent residence permit from the Immigration Ministry after reapplying for the document.

Then Associate Minister of Immigration Damien O'connor said that if Ghanbari were to be required to temporarily leave the country, due to a clause in New Zealand immigration law, he would look into the case. Afterwards, O'connor said he would not intervene in the issue.

Saied then did as he was advised and left the country.

However, Ghanbari has since had to struggle to get his case heard. The New Zealand Immigration Ministry refuses to hear the case, saying that his relationship is not genuine and was just a marriage of convenience. Now it is up to the new immigration minister to decide on the case.

... Payvand News - 1/10/06 ... --

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